First of all, what is a deposition?  A deposition is testimony that is taken before trial and under oath.  The other party’s attorney will ask you questions.  These questions and answers will be recorded by a court reporter.  A deposition can also be recorded by a videographer.  Basically, a deposition is just like you are testifying in a court room, but it is a bit more casual because there is no judge presiding over the process. 

An important thing to remember during your deposition—what you say could be admissible at trial later on.  The attorney asking you questions wants to catch you in a lie or omitting something.  If the attorney accomplishes this, he or she can make you look untruthful when you testify later at trial.  Speaking of telling the truth—one word comes to mind: perjury.  Put simply, perjury is when you knowingly violate the oath to tell the truth and willfully tell a lie.    

So, what will happen at a deposition?  The short answer is it depends on your case.  Usually, a deposition begins by focusing on your personal information, your background, and other details.  This helps your attorney and the attorney asking you questions see what kind of witness you will be and how influential you will be for the jury.   During the deposition, the attorney asking questions wants to learn as much as possible about you and details of the case.  He or she may ask you to explain documents, such as an email or a text message.  You may also be asked about the context of a situation or occurrence that may or may not be relevant to the case.   Some attorneys test you and see what it takes to get you “riled up.”

You should not guess an answer.  If you are unsure about an answer, begin by stating things such as “to the best of my knowledge” or “I do not recall at this time.”  If you do not state your answers accurately and truthfully, the other attorney can use that to influence a jury into disbelieving what you testify at trial. 

One key piece of advice—pause.  Let your attorney make an objection before your answer and think about how you can answer the question.  Keep in mind—you do not have to help the other side, but you should do your best to keep your cool no matter if something is making you upset, irritated, or anything else that a jury would not appreciate.  Let’s say you laugh at a question and make a sarcastic comment.   Opposing counsel could make the comment on the record that you may not be taking this case seriously.  I can assure you that a jury member who is stuck in a courtroom instead of living their own life would more than likely not think the case was funny. 

I hope this quick blog helps you see how important it is to prepare for a deposition.  For more specific information on this topic, see How to Prepare for a Deposition.  Remember: everything matters when you walk into a room where what is said is being recorded for the purpose of a trial.  If you have any concerns about a lawsuit, call an experienced attorney at Goosmann Law Firm in Sioux Falls, Sioux City, or Omaha today.


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